Running your eCommerce business without goals is like going on a road trip, without knowing where you're heading.
Sure - it can be fun, adventurous even at times, but for many of us it can result in lost hours, a lack of focus and frustration.
WHY GOALS MATTER
Goals help keep you on track - they infuse focus in your daily routine, and act as a filter for what you do, and don't want more of in your life and business.
They also give you direction. If you have a goal of $50,000 in revenue for the year, you know that is what you're aiming for -- you can break that down by day, week, month to keep yourself motivated.
"Fortune cannot aid those who do nothing" Sophocles
A STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO BASIC GOAL SETTING
One of my more popular posts, "How to Make Your Revenue Target" walks you through the step by step goal setting process for your online store. It's a must read.
There's also a free printable goal setting planner at the end of the post which is very similar to the one I use in our offices at Encircled
In summary, I believe that setting your goals is step one.
The classic S-M-A-R-T goal setting principles still apply, especially in business goals.
S -> Specific -- What focus area are you looking to target for improvement?
If you want to improve your financials for your business. Are you looking to improve sales or profit? If it's sales, for example, is it gross sales or net sales?
Being specific will help you narrow in on the exact goal.
M -> Measurable
Specificity will help you identify the goal, but knowing the goal, and measuring it are two different things. Financial goals like sales are typically easy to quantify. You can go into your accounting software, or an eComm platform like Shopify and check out their reports.
However, what if your goal is Cost of Customer Acquisition? It's definitely measurable, but how? And what numbers will be held to be the 'true' numbers?
This needs to be clear before you start working on the goal, otherwise it can become one of two things: A moving target (the source of your data is always changing!), or the worst kind -- immeasurable -- you'll never know IF you achieve it.
A -> Assignable
So, like who's responsible for achieving this goal? You? Your team? Merchandising?
Generally when you're starting out in eCommerce, it will be you who is responsible. But sometimes it's fun to pretend you have a big team and say "we". Seriously.
You will some day, so why not start now?
R -> Realistic
Does your goal make sense? This is an area where I see clients get stuck often.
Setting goals can seem like 'guess work', and to some extent, it is.
In the retail industry, the old dogs would say it's an art and a science.
Because, you're using data, but you're also leveraging your gut feel to determine if that feels right, and qualitative information like product launches, PR pushes, etc.
You'll also want to find the balance between making a goal too aggressive, or too easy.
A very aggressive goal may be way too high based on how you're trending today, or not have a sufficient ramp up time (I.e I'm doing $5k a month right now, and next month I'll do $20k). These types of goals can have the opposite effect of goal setting - they can de-motivate you, and quite honestly, depress entrepreneurs.
Goals that are too easy don't push you enough. If you have a month revenue 'run' rate (i.e. you're generating consistently this amount of sales a month) of say $5k, and you make your target $5.5k then you're doing a bit of goal 'lollygagging'.
When you blow that goal out of the water with your absolutely rock solid marketing plan, you'll feel like you don't deserve to celebrate because you made it too easy.
Aim to find the balance.
T -> Time-bound
Set a time period. Define it. Make it clear. Are you going to do $50,000 in revenue? When? Over 12 months? 6 months? 2 days?
Create the time-bound guardrails for your goals, and you'll feel a new sense of motivation around the achievemnet of that goal.
For example, say you want to hire 1 shipping and customer service employee by holiday 2016. When does holiday 2016 begin? Be specific!
It will help you prioritize also when making your plans on the HOW of achieving all them goals. ;-)
RESOURCE GUIDE FOR PERSONAL GOAL SETTING
I always encourage clients, and my employees at Encircled to set personal goals.
I'm a tad obsessed with self-improvement and fully believe that having a focus in both your business and personal life puts us on the path to joy.
"The first step to getting somewhere is deciding that you're not going to stay where you are." - J.P. Morgan
Hard vs. Soft / Macro vs. Micro Goals
I believe it's essential to have a balance of hard goals (i.e. I want to live in a loft in Downtown Toronto by age 35 or I want to get a puppy before Winter <--oops, this is mine!) with softer goals (I.e I want to feel grateful every day, I want to infuse more love into my relationship).
You can make your goals Macro (extremely large, overarching -- like the feeling of daily gratitude) or more Micro (specific - I want THAT damn puppy in my life asap!).
If you read my post on "How to put your soul back on the agenda", I touch on how Danielle Laporte's Desire Map book helped me set "goals with soul".
I have all kinds of personal goals, but do believe that finding what works and feels most authentic for you is important.
Lastly, it's important to write down your goals S O M E W H E R E. Even better, if you can find the courage to share them with someone close to you.
Having a goal, writing it out, declaring it to the universe and having someone to help hold you accountable to it is a recipe for success.
Here are my fav resources for personal goal setting:
- 4 Steps to Set Goals with Soul (Danielle Laporte interview with Marie Forleo)
- The Being Boss (Visual) Chalkboard method
- Michael Hyatt Goal Setting Tips
- Jess Lively on setting Intentions
I'd love to hear from you.
Do you have goals for your business and life? One? Or both? Share your thoughts in the comments below or find me on Instagram.